In my previous blog post I wrote about benefits of using natural & organic cosmetic from the ‘save the planet’ perspective. In the current blog I will share my views on benefits of natural/organic cosmetic from the end-user perspective.
As already mentioned, there are no EC regulations, guidelines, requirements or restrictions about production or even classification of natural and organic cosmetic. For many years it has been a grey area, allowing individual interpretations and claims. When can product be considered as natural – when it contains 5, 10, 90% of natural ingredients? How can an average customer, who does not have an in depth knowledge of chemistry and understanding of INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) know, which skin care product is natural? In our opinion, the quality of natural or organic cosmetic is determined by the EXCLUDED ingredients, rather than by the included ones. According to public opinion, good quality natural cosmetic should be:
Why? What is so bad about sulphates? What are the reasons to exclude them?
- To reduce the chances of developing irritation or inflammations on skin or scalp.
- To increase moisture retention within the hair and the skin.
- To prevent destruction of the important skin mantle acid balance and thus protect the skin from absorbing harmful chemicals.
- To help maintain colour in dyed hair for longer periods of time. Sulphate free shampoos are beneficial for coloured hair.
PEG AND EO FREE
Why exclude PEG and EO? Are PEG and EO dangerous?
- PEG stands for polyethylene glycol
- EO stands for ethylene oxide
The cosmetics industry uses PEGs and EOs as solvents, thickeners, softeners and moisture carriers. They also function as absorption enhancers. Through these properties they allow both good and bad ingredients to be absorbed faster into deeper parts of skin. If they are used on broken or damaged skin, they can cause irritation and sometimes leas to system toxicity.
PEG’s are often manufactured using ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane. Ethylene oxide is a known human carcinogen. It may harm the human nervous system and sometimes even cause developmental problems. 1,4 dioxane has been marked as a possible human carcinogen. It is also toxic to the environment.
SYNTHETIC COLOURS FREE
Why? Are artificial colours bad for you?
To change the colour of soaps, lotions, shower gels, face creams, shampoos, styling products, and more, manufacturers use artificial colours and dyes, which are often made from a variety of synthetic chemicals. Artificial colorants are often made from coal tar, and sometimes contain dangerous metals, such as lead. When your skin comes in contact with the toxins that artificial colours leave on your skin, there is an increased risk of sensitivity and irritation. In addition they could lead to greater risk of acne, because they might block your pores.
MINERAL OIL FREE
Mineral oil is considered “comedogenic.” That means it can clog your pores which can lead to acne and blackheads. Dermatologists have also said say that creams which combine mineral oil and paraffin can damage the skin barrier and increase water loss.
The more refined the mineral oil is, the less comedogenic it is. But it is difficult to find out how purified the mineral oil in your product is.
Silicone forms a barrier on top of your skin, which is similar to putting on a plastic wrap. It is true that this barrier can lock in moisture, but it can also trap dirt, sweat, bacteria, sebum, dead skin cells and other debris along with it. This prolonged exposure to oil, dead skin cells and bacteria trapped beneath the semi-occlusive silicone layer can lead to breakouts of acne or congestions. Smoothness, achieved by silicones is only short-term. By clogging the pores, silicones prevent additional moisture from getting in, and that results in dull, dried out skin.
You may be surprised that phthalates are a family of industrial chemicals that are used to soften PVC plastic, as well as being used as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products like detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes, and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes). Several studies conducted on animals have concluded that phthalates can damage the lungs, kidneys, liver, and reproductive system.
GMOs are genetically modified organisms whose genes have been artificially altered to modify their characteristics in some way or another. Plants, animals, and microorganisms – including bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi – can all be genetically modified. Among the first GMOs used in cosmetics were certain plant-derived ingredients. Some botanical cosmetic ingredients are derived from or contain components from GMO food products including corn oil, corn flour, soybean oil, and other components produced by yeast. Some GMOs have been developed specifically for cosmetic, to assist in production of ingredients. For example, canola has been modified to produce high levels of lauric acid, a key ingredient in soaps and detergents, at a reduced cost for consumers.
It has still not been determined what the effects of GMOs on human health are.
CONTROVERSIAL PRESERVATIVES (parabens, phenoxyethanol or sources of formaldehyde) FREE
Phenoxyethanol and Parabens are widely used synthetic preservatives that have global approval for use in all cosmetic products in concentrations up to 1%. Parabens and phenoxyethanol are a problem in cosmetics for reasons that have nothing to do with skincare. Based on research, some articles mention that both preservatives, when absorbed through skin care products can mimic hormones in the body, disrupt functions of the endocrine system or even cause cancer. However, we could not find any scientific study that would prove that.
Someone might ask, what the point in excluding controversial preservatives is, then.
Well, because it is the public opinion that they are dangerous. And you cannot defeat public opinion or fight against it. If people feel safer by not using some preservatives, it is much easier to replace them with the ones that are publicly acceptable.
Before I started preparing my blogs, I did a lot of internet research on the topics I was going to write about. I was surprised how many positive and negative reviews are available about the same topics. One claiming something is dangerous, other saying it is not. No wonder that it is hard for people to decide whom to believe and trust. So, my advice is – trust yourself and read the INCI!